The Nelson Public Library is asking anyone who values library services to get on board a campaign to see provincial funding to libraries increased.
The campaign, $20 million in 2020, would see a two per cent increase in funding — the first increase in a decade. Supporters are asked to submit a letter of support to the B.C. government’s select standing committee on finance and government services consultation for the Budget 2020. Deadline for submissions is Friday, June 28 at 5 p.m.
“Two per cent is really a modest goal considering what libraries provide now, and the increase in demand we are expecting to see as libraries increasingly become the social, creative, and educational hubs of their communities,” says Nelson Public Library chief librarian Tracey Therrien.
“The increase is essential if we want to maintain what we currently offer and support future needs of our residents. Strong community engagement in this campaign could make all the difference.”
British Columbia has 71 public libraries with 241 service locations in which more than 15.6 million items are available to borrow. In 2017, 52 million items were checked out, and libraries offered 74,000 programs to the public, attended by 1.74 million people. B.C. libraries have 3,600 computers available for public use.
The Nelson Public Library in 2018 saw more than 146,000 visits, and offered 5,295 programs to 6,752 participants, in addition to outreach programs to seniors and rural residents. On-site computers were used 22,402 times, and people accessed online databases and downloaded e-Books and e-Audiobooks a combined total of more than 50,000 times. Library programs are for all ages, from wee ones to teens to seniors, offering community connection, learning, and skill-building, all of which contribute to a stronger community.
Although the City of Nelson has provided inflationary increases over the years, provincial funding has remained stagnant since 2009, a situation that has become unsustainable, says Therrien. “Libraries across B.C. are lobbying hard, but voices from our communities are essential.”
Written, audio, and video submissions to the select committee are invited at https://www.leg.bc.ca/content-committees/Pages/Finance-Budget-Consultation.aspx. The Nelson library can offer addresses for government ministers or assistance with online submissions, and community members are invited to call 250-352-6333 for more information.